Roasted Whole Lamb, Hohhot
Roasted Whole Lamb is a Sherwood-Forest like tradition that was handed down by the Yuan (CE 1279-1368) Dynasty (it will be remembered that the first emperor of the Yuan Dynasty was none other than Kublai Khan, grandson to Genghis Khan). Later, during the Qing (CE 1644-1911) Dynasty, the royal court loved the idea so much that they made it into a feast, the "Zhama Feast" (meaning a feast with a whole roasted animal, i.e., with only the hair and entrails removed). The Mongolian maharajas of the Qing Dynasty regularly treated their honored guests to the Zhama Feast. Today, Roasted Whole Lamb is a traditional dish that Mongolians turn to for entertaining distinguished guests, and when holding important cerebrations. It is also a part of official government etiquette to entertain state guests with a Zhama Feast.
The standard animal for a Zhama Feast is a well-fattened sheep of about 20 kilograms. The roasting procedure requires a special oven, as animals this large cannot be roasted in a normal household oven. After slaughtering the sheep by the traditional method, where the animal is skinned and the entrails removed, the sheep is stuffed with scallions, ginger, and salt & pepper, then sewn up. By Mongolian custom, when the animal is roasted to perfection, and after the five hors d'oeuvre courses have been served, the Roasted Whole Lamb is carried out on a special platter and the guest of honor is permitted to carve a cross on the animal's forehead. After this event is duly applauded, the sevants may then proceed to carve the Roasted Whole Lamb and serve it to the assembled guests.